Whether it is a scarlet raspberry sauce streaked across a white plate, a basketful of fresh oranges, or an elaborate wedding cake with a sugary waterfall of purple pansies, it is often the color of food that makes our eyes sparkle – and our stomachs growl.
As evidenced by those raspberries, nature has generously provided a plethora of hues already. And, as evidenced by that wedding cake, humans love to create beautiful, edible and colorful art inspired by the real thing.
Many turn to the easiest tool: artificial food coloring. I’ve used it myself and I’ll use it again, because it is uber-convenient. But another part of me feels that artificial food coloring (heck, any artificial food) is kind of creepy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved artificial food colorings used today. But about one year ago, the agency began to ponder warning labels for products with fake coloring based on the possibility that it could exacerbate behavioral problems in kids.
I can understand why some parents would want to limit the rainbow of faux-colored foods their kids ingest. Some adults, too, probably aren’t enticed by the thought of eating something called erythrosine or tartrazine.
But that shouldn’t mean we have to eat generic white cupcakes for the remainder of our lives. Brands such as India Tree and Sur la Table make and sell natural food dyes (these products are mostly available online). It can also be fun to play with natural ingredients such as beets or avocados to create lovely hues.
To continue reading this column and to see recipes for Avocado Frosting, Naturally Green Cake, Zucchini Cake with Lime Frosting and Green With Envy Cheesecake Bars, click here.